Outdoors

 

We all love ’em. Sweet Texas oranges are those little juicy bites of sunshine that we can buy year round at local grocery stores. Lots of our oranges come from Florida and California (thick skins, pretty, not as juicy) and South Texas and Mexico (not as pretty, super sweet, super juicy). With a little care you can grow your own oranges on your own beautiful orange tree right here in Southeast Texas.

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Most of the time when we as outdoor writers relay the news to you, it’s about adults. But many years ago there were a larger number of youth hunting and fishing. During the past decade, those numbers seem to have dwindled.

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The cold weather of late has not exactly set the stage for fishing of any kind, but the pursuit of big bass on East Texas lakes is always on the top burner about this time of year. I was talking to bass fishing pro Lonnie Stanley a few days ago and he said that Sam Rayburn is in great shape thanks to recent rains.

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It is that dreaded time of year when our mailboxes start to fill with those W-2, 1099s and other forms that indicate to us what might be taxable income. Some people simply throw all of the tax documents in a shoe box or plastic bag, and take them to a CPA or storefront tax service for completion of 1040 forms and schedules.

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It’s hard to believe that most hunting seasons are already winding down. It seems to me that only a few days ago, the big discussions were what kind of shape the deer country was in. Along with that was the question of animal condition after the drought a year ago. Many of the predictions of doom and gloom were not supported. There was ample rainfall during the right time to supply ample forage for the deer in most areas.

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Southeast Texas is not without plenty of hiking trails, and three of the best places to check out while we’ve still got cool winter weather include the Big Thicket just north of Beaumont, Village Creek State Park in Lumberton and Martin Dies Jr. State Park near Jasper.

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Just think of them as that tough, rugged individual that lots of ladies look for in their 20s. The sedums are independent succulents that will make you happy in good soil, bad soil, little water — “in sickness and in health.” They bloom for months and don’t require much day-to-day care. There’s a sedum for most any sunny spot you have to fill.

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Big bass will be more active on warm and sunny days in January. Bass pro Lonnie

January is not the most pleasant month to be out on East Texas lakes casting for bass, but hey, it could always be worse, like, uh … February.

But on the bright side of things, this is a month that a lot of anglers begin their hunt for lunker bass on East Texas lakes, specifically Fork and Sam Rayburn.

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Back in the times when there were more folks living on farms or just in the country, winter was hog killing time. There was no cold storage other than an icebox. That made it necessary to wait until there were a couple of cold fronts to put their annual pork supply to bed. Smoking the meat or using salt in vats were the methods of that day for preserving their meat. We can still do those things, but the use of freezers is a lot simpler. To get that great smoke flavor, we can smoke it for a few hours and it’s ready to put on the table.

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Most gardeners know that lots on insects in the garden are what keep things “in the pink.” Of all the insects in the garden, the ladybug is one of the most recognizable and helpful. They are a friend – no, a best friend – of the gardener. They just love to make a meal of those dreaded aphids. Not only that, they look so darned cute.

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